So I tried to make it to the Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival in time to catch at east one days ride but things simply did not work out. On the way from Negril to Ochi I was forced to make a stop and repair the front brakes on the Vannette. I have been having some trouble finding the parts for it and we had to take advantage of the opportunity to get the repairs done before we continued on any further long distance trips. The brakes were in need of repair and so we took a half day break in Mobay at the auto mechanics. This blew out the rest of my travel plans and we ended up arriving in Ocho Rios to late in the day for any riding with the crew in Robins Bay. We decided instead to spend the day at Cranbrook Flower Forest which was absolutely awesome but probably not quite as much fun as mountain biking for dad at least. We did however make it over to Oracabessa in St Mary and spent the day at James Bond Beach for the 1st Annual Jamaica Bicycle Bash put on by SMORBA, the Saint Mary Off Road Bicycle Association. SMORBA is a not for profit organization affiliated to IMBA that is actively engaged in building and maintaining bicycling opportunities for local residents of Jamaicaâ€™s famed North Coast.
SMORBA is supported by Island Sports , a non profit organization sponsored by Island Outpost which manages the James Bond Beach complex along with a number of large properties on the island, and their goal is to promote their Bicycling Works program to the benefit of area youth. The Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival has been held in Negril over the past 8+ years and was primarily an off-road event limited to participation of 3 to 5 Jamaicans and a larger number of international competitors. This years goal was to open the event up for more community participation and the number of races days was paired down in favor of cycling activities for locals such as the ramp for kids to jump on, the big dirt jumps pictured below we’re reserved for professional dirt jumpers who put on a show and the highlight of the day had to be the Rambolympics.
The Rambolympics were staged to show the ingenious usage of bicycles in Jamaican society. A bicycle can be much more than a form of recreation in an impoverished nation like Jamaica and in many cases it can be the sole form of transportation for a person and even an entire family. Watching Jamaicans ride their bicycle to work in the morning one can never expect what to see being carried away in a basket or dangling from the handlebars in a grocers bag as the move about their day. The Rambolympics were broken down into three events, the most popular event was a skill test to see how a rider dealt with carrying odd objects that you may find a Jamaican carrying on their bike each day. The ride was three laps around the oval track with the rider being required to pick up a large cumbersome item on each lap. The first lap a rider had to carry and empty Red Stripe case around the field and proceed to the empty gas cylinder so common in kitchens around Jamaica. The Red Stripe Case and the empty gas can seemed difficult enough for most riders but it was the final piece that gook most of them out. The number of Jamaicans seen walking around with a weed whacker can only be surpassed by the number of Jamaicans you see walking around with a machete. Carrying one on a bicycle in the streets of Jamaica is a whole different trick and riding with a weedwhacker, an empty gas gan and a case of Red Stripe makes for some damn good fun for everyone. This was without doubt the most fun and most popular event with everyone enjoying watching the locals spank the international professionals in every event except of course the pro dirt jumping.
Jamaicans are very resourceful people and they seemed to be more adept at carrying odd loads on their bicycles when compared to their “farrin” competitors. The “white boy” riders from America and Canada were not prepared for the sweltering heat and excitement of the days events and you can see it in their faces. The Jamaican riders are more at home in the tremendous heat and better able to deal with the physical activities of the Rambo race. I predicted a Jamaican youth would win and I was right. The young man being covered with flour below was the winner of not only the most favored event but he also won the most challenging event when he took the “5 Mile Rambo Race around Oracabessa” which is a three lap loop through the city center ending back at James Bond Beach. IN Jamaica it is a tradition to cover a person in flour in their birthday. This was a pretty hot day and it was obvious the sun was taking its toll on the vacationers who had already ridden for 2 or 3 days each.
There was a lot of bike riding going on throughout the day and some of the most action was at the dirt jumps with professional riders from around the world showing off their talents to the local youth. Of course the local kids were just waiting for the pro riders to crash on some of the big air jumps they pulled but everyone had a good time and the kids were super stoked to see these pros do their thing. Professional Riders Cam McCaul and Kyle Ebbet did some superman style dirt jumps and the residents of Oracabessa loved it.
The Rambolympics and the Rambo Race around Oracabessa were big fun for the older riders but I think many of the youth actually had more fun riding bikes on the ramp and participating in the bunny hop contest. Jamaicans are very competitive people and each of them was looking to win the Red Bull bunny hop challenge. The goal was to bunny hop your bike over the bamboo rail set on top of stacked cases of Red Bull. I think they got up to 5 cases before everyone started missing them.
SMORBA is working to teach local youth on how to own and operate their own mountain bike guide services and JamaicaMAX.com is going to help. If you want to do some mountain bike riding in Jamaica or take a Jamaica mountain bike tour then contact us so we can arrange a mountain biking trip in Jamaica for you and your group for a small donation to SMORBA. What they actually need is some equipment such as used mountain bikes and cycling gear to outfit local youth and begin their training. If you donate a Jamaican youth a quality mountain bike then JamaicaMAX will deduct 50% of the value of the equipment from your tour costs. For more information about SMORBA and what they do visit their website at http://www.smorba.com or look for our upcoming article featuring more details on their program.Tags: 2008, contact, cranbrook, island outpost, island sports trust, Jamaica, jamaica bicycle, jamaica charity, jamaica cycling, jamaica mountain bike, jamaica ngo, jamaicamax, jamaicans, negril, ochi, Ocho Rios, olympics, re, smorba, travel